Malaysia and the pace of change

I have recently returned from Kuala Lumpur, having attended the RSM Asia Pacific conference, where over 160 RSM leaders from across the region and other key markets came together to discuss client service and the growth and development of the RSM network.

The drive into the city is always an experience; the skyline is constantly evolving, with construction projects and new development everywhere. The tropical storms raging as we arrived served as a reminder that this vibrant and modern city lies just an hour from the rainforest. Where the heavy city traffic used to be dominated by the locally produced Proton there is now a noticeably higher number of foreign cars on the road. Earlier this month the government announced plans to gradually reduce the import tax on cars from Japan and Australia, signalling that Malaysia is taking action to raise and sustain its growth levels in what has become a highly competitive Asian market.

Living in the west we can sometimes fail to appreciate the pace at which change can visibly take place in certain countries and cities. I have visited Malaysia three times in the last seven years and the activity and development throughout this time, from domestic buildings to public infrastructure, has been astounding. In our profession, which is indicative of our clients’ own business environment, business is a challenge; coming together for our annual regional conference RSM member firms discussed how we can stay responsive, stay dynamic and stay ahead in an increasingly progressive global market.

The conference took place against the backdrop of the national elections; the most hotly contested election in the country since it gained its independence from Britain in 1957. Despite the handful of riots and more commonly felt sense of reluctant acceptance,  with many fearing a symbolic opportunity for great change had passed, commentators agree that political change and increased transparency will happen in Malaysia regardless of the incumbent Barisan Nasional retaining power.

No doubt the next time I visit Malaysia there will be ever more evidence of progress and development. I never fail to be impressed by the warmth, energy and entrepreneurial spirit of the Malaysian people and Kuala Lumpur provided the perfect backdrop to discuss our own plans for the future and how we as a network will both drive, and respond to, the pace of change.



Jean M Stephens
Chief Executive Officer